Sunday, March 30, 2008

Drops Shaw with leaf pattern in Alpaca

"-A late afternoon by the ocean. Lay a pretty lace knitted shawl in soft warm Alpaca around your shoulders"

So begins the pattern, Drops number 98-21.

It was released from my office floor this morning, where it had lain, pinned to the floor all night. Here's how it ended...





... and it's life as a shawl begins.

The details: the pattern is Drops #98-21, a free pattern available at I used 100% fingering weight local alpaca, a gift from a very generous friend, on 4.5 mm (US 6?) needles. The shawl took about three weeks to finish, so, all in all, a quick, easy, and very pretty knit (at least, I think so). The pattern, because it's translated into English, isn't always the clearest, but really isn't a difficult one at all. The pattern calls for a crochet edge all around, but I chose not to add it. I don't think it needs it and if, in the future I feel it becomes necessary, I still have yarn to do it.

Thank you, Margie! I will treasure this shawl for a long time to come, I'm sure (if I can pry it off of John's shoulders... he is appreciating the warmth of alpaca on his very achy shoulders right now... some kind of man, huh? Do you think shawls for men will ever come into vogue? I have a feeling John would be one of the first in line to wear one!).

Saturday, March 29, 2008



I wonder what THAT could be, besides one ugly sun-bleached towel that was used as a chair cover? A clue? You'd like a clue? Maybe this will help.


I'm sure that by now you've realized that the alpaca shawl is finished and that it's hiding beneath a damp towel for blocking. Good guessing! I pinned it out dry, misted it with water, then applied a wet (damp) towel; once dry and unpinned, I'll post another picture, just to give you a better idea of what the shawl really looks like. In the meantime, here's how it looked pre-blocked...


Margie stopped by the print shop this week with another ball of alpaca for me. I wasn't in much of a mood for knitting that night, but I did finish it the following evening and have had it wrapped around me every evening since. Alpaca is so warm and cozy! I can already tell that I'll get a lot of use out of this shawl. And this is what's left of the yarn...


Yes, I have started something with the remainder. I won't tell you what it is just yet; for one thing, I haven't exactly decided. All I'll say is that I've cast on 64 stitches on 2.25 mm needles and am working 1x1 rib. For now, this project is a mystery project. And that's all I'll say on that matter.

On another matter, allow me to introduce a new member to my (knitting) family.


I have quite a few ideas for sweaters floating around in my mind, some of them already on paper, but I have no intention of knitting every single one of them, especially not in adult sizes. That would be a LOT of knitting and a lot of time. I've read numerous suggestions by other knitters that recommend knitting child-sized or doll-sized versions of sweater designs. I like that idea, so today, on my walkabout, I stopped in at the thrift store just down the way from us (not even a block away) and found this little plastic person. For $3.00, I have myself a model. Hopefully, you'll be seeing more of this LPP (little plastic person) in the not-too-distant future.

Having this LPP in my home also ensures that, when my granddaughters come to visit, there will be at least one toy for them to play with. That's always a good thing!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Orkney Pi Anyone?

Orkney Pi
Originally uploaded by Strings 'n Things
Just a short post today.

I'm a member in a number of Yahoo groups. One of them is EZasPi; that group is currently in the middle of a knitalong for the Orkney Pi Shawl. The shawl is designed by Liz Lovick, a knitter and designer who lives in the Orkneys and incorporates traditional Orkney designs in a pi shawl, Elizabeth Zimmermann's design.

This little bit of knitting already has history, beyond the stitches used. It's my second attempt. It isn't that it's a difficult pattern; it isn't. I started it yesterday, using Skacel's Merino Lace, on 2.5 mm (US 2) needles. I was almost at the point I'm at in this picture when I encountered a break in the yarn. After finding the other end of the break, and giving it a tug, I found another break. And another break. Do you see where this is going?

When I picked up the ball of yarn, I realized that something had decided that this particular ball of yarn was a delectable buffet. The entire ball of yarn was nothing but pieces! Immediately, the work in progress was freed from the needles and it, with the entire ball of yarn, was trashed... filed in the circular file. And then I went back to my stash to check the rest of it.

I haven't seen any other evidence of little nibbles, so I'm not too worried. I'm thinking that this yarn had been in the same spot as my Icarus shawl (remember the holes in my completed shawl??). I know I had played with the Merino Lace at about the same time.

Anyway, this yarn is Hemp for Knitting laceweight yarn. This is the yarn I was using to make elann's Luna Moth shawl; the one that I dropped 40 or so stitches from. Once again, I'm using 2.5 mm needles. I do like how it's knitting up. Even though it's supposed to be a shawl (Liz has written that her completed shawl measures over 7 feet across!), this one will be a fair bit smaller, probably just the right size to fit on my glass coffee table. It will also look stunning as a centerpiece on my antique oak dining room table.

The arrow you see in the upper left hand corner points to the first of the traditional stitch patterns, the cat's paw. I'm finding this, like my Evolution Shawl, a fun project. I think I could become obsessive about it, as I did with my pi shawl.

Now, back to knitting and the next section... horseshoe lace.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Sometimes it's difficult to come up with a title; today, I'm not coming up with one. So there!

I did more knitting yesterday; I won't have enough yarn. I would have had if I hadn't looked at the pattern to make sure I was at the end. It seems the shawl requires a full repeat of the leaf pattern before doing the edging, which is just a basic garter stitch edging, really. I was thinking I'd finished the repeat; I was only half way through. And so, I don't. However, I did get an email from the dear friend who gave me the yarn and she has more, so I won't have to frog back to the lifeline. I love my friends!

Yesterday was a very nice, relaxing kind of day. John got home at about 2:30 (he's working again today), and by that time I'd baked a Swedish Tea Ring, something I haven't baked in a lot of years. Basically, it's a sweet bread, stuffed with cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins and nuts. John loved it!

After he got home, we did some grocery shopping, then just relaxed. I cooked us a lovely meal of pork chops, mashed potatoes and peas; John had his spicy apple sauce (he added cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne to it... not quite to my liking) and then we did nothing but watch tv and go to bed early. As I said, relaxing.

Today, again, I have time for myself (I could get used to this). I didn't really feel like baking, but I did feel like doing something creative in the kitchen. While we were in Gibsons, I started what I hoped would become a tradition; each Sunday, John would spend the morning at home and go to the restaurant after lunch. I started making us an omelette every Sunday and, for the most part, we've kept up that tradition. Today, that omelette will be a late lunch, early supper for us.

I decided that, since we'll be having a late lunch, we won't need much for dinner, but it would be nice to have something sweet for later in the evening. One of my favourite desserts is panna cotta, basically milk Jello. This time, however, I wanted something different; I still had a can of coconut milk in my pantry, so I wondered if I could use it instead of cream. So, I went hunting online.


The makings of a delicious dessert.

I found a recipe for Cardamom Panna Cotta here. In the same post was a recipe for Cardamom Coffee. Both recipes sounded interesting and I had all the ingredients in the house, so dessert tonight will be Cardamom Panna Cotta with homemade cherry sauce (cherry jam that didn't gel up the way it was supposed to... it's in the jar in the picture), Cardamom coffee (the plastic baggie in the coffee cup contains the ingredients... just have to put it and the water in the coffee maker and let it do it's thing) and a little bit of chocolate on the side. The chocolate is Divine (that's the brand name, but it is divine!) 70% dark chocolate, a fair trade chocolate, sent to me by my sister as interest paid on a book she borrowed a while back. (Thanks, Gloria!!)

I think John will enjoy!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Saturday!

I'm off and John's working. That means 1) spring is here and 2) I have 'me' time! It means spring is here because John's boss got the landscaping contract for the college and that means John's back to work!! I'm very thankful for that; that means bills will get paid again... and we'll actually have food in the cupboards again.

I have me time today. It's been a long time since I've had time just for me. I've already given myself a facial this morning and now I'm trying to decide what to do with the rest of the time I have available to me. Of course, some of that time will be spent knitting, that's a given. I've been trying to decide whether or not to do some baking or some cooking. Until I decide, I'll knit. ;)

Speaking of knitting, I've really only been working on the alpaca shawl this week, and not very much on it, either. One of the projects at work (a 2 day job) was a little repetitive and has aggravated my already achy wrist, so knitting has been kept to a minimum.

I do, however, have pictures.


Progress. This part of the shawl is almost mindless. Almost because you do have to figure out how to add repeats at one point. The directions aren't very clear on how to do that. I managed, though. You can see I have a lifeline inserted...


That was a joint decision between John and myself (he's turning into my knitting advisor... how long before he picks up the needles??). I looked at the shawl; I looked at the yarn remaining. I wasn't sure there would be enough yarn and I had to decide where I could cut corners, if I had to. We decided that, if necessary, I could eliminate the second repeat of the straight section. After the straight section, the pattern calls for one repeat of the leaf pattern and then a treatment edging of some kind (haven't read that part completely yet, but it's not patterned, just knit rows and purl rows). Hence, the lifeline.

What do you think? Here's what I've got left...


It will be close, that I do know.

The last picture I posted of the shawl wasn't the greatest. Of course, lace always looks like a blob before it's blocked. However, I did take a better picture of the shawl, draped over the armrest of my recliner. It gives you a much better idea of what this shawl will look like.


There you have it. Now, on with my day... might even go for a walk in the rain. Yes, rain. Hey, at least it isn't snow!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Of Shawls and Gloves

I tried to post yesterday... twice! Blogger was having issues and my post never did make it to the blog. Let's hope that today Blogger's feeling better.

Where shall I begin? Last weekend, I had decided to knit the Blackberry Shawl from the Drops website (this one). I have some Drops Alpaca that I'd intended to use for this shawl; it had been purchased with Evelyn A. Clark's Estonian Garden stole in mind, but I frogged it. Anyway, I started the shawl. And frogged it.

It's a lovely design, but the pattern is very confusing. It would be very helpful to have more spacing between the paragraphs, for one thing. The charts for each half are placed one above the other, making it very difficult for the eye to follow the flow of the pattern. As well, the center stitches and their increases are not shown in the pattern, but you're told, in the written instructions, to incorporate the increases when there are enough stitches for a pattern repeat. Fine and dandy, but it would be helpful to have that charted.

Like I said, I frogged it. For now. This week, I was able to copy the charts into PageMaker and now have them side by side, which will make them easier to follow. One of these days, I'll start it again, but for now, I'm working on this, another Drops design...


The pattern can be found here. It's working up quickly. Looking at the picture, it looks like there are seven repeats of the initial leaf pattern; I already have six repeats completed. By the end of today, I should be well into the second section.

The yarn I'm using was a gift from a friend. She and a friend have alpacas and this is yarn from those alpacas. Margie originally had a design in mind for me when she gave me this yarn, but, though I tried to cast on for it a couple of times, this yarn just didn't want to be that design. It seems to like this design very much! This will be one cozy, comfy, and cushy shawl! Once I have it done, I'll have to be sure and show Margie and once again let her know how grateful I am for her gift of this yarn.

Oh yes, I do have a progress picture...


Lace never looks like much before it's blocked, does it?

And then, there are the gloves. I did post a picture of the glove in progress in my last post, but it wasn't a very good one. I must be honest, I haven't worked on the gloves this week; they seem to be a weekend project (or a Sunday project). I do, however, have somewhat better pictures.



Keep in mind that the glove in progress is for the right hand; I've photographed it on my left hand, so everything is reversed. What you see on the palm is, in fact, the back of the hand and vice versa. I'm very much liking how this is knitting up. They're going to be one warm pair of gloves!

I know that if an expert in Fair Isle were to examine the gloves, they would critique a few things, but all in all, who's going to look too closely at my hands? They're meant for warmth more than anything else.

Now, it's time to hit the "publish" button and get on with my day. I have a couple of overdue library books, so I do believe a trip to the library is in the schedule for today. After that, I intend to get some knitting done!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

This and that

I'm home sick today; I woke up with a knitting needle stuck in the side of my head and coming out of the back of my neck. No, not really, that's just what it feels like. I'll be fine, but in the interim, I'm home today.

March, according to the American Crochet Guild (or whatever it calls itself), is national crochet month. I used to do a lot of crochet work; rarely with wool. When I crochet, I prefer #10 crochet cotton, or finer. I thought that, since I usually show my knitting on the blog, I'd show you that I really do know how to crochet, too.

Here's a collage of three pieces I did years ago. They've not been blocked since the first time, so they're not looking their best anymore, but it will give you an idea of the work I used to do.


I remember discovering that I much preferred the Japanese patterns (I have 2 Japanese crochet books); the finished doilies lay much flatter and block out so much better than the patterns I made using the Magic Crochet magazines (which are lovely, but they just don't lay as nicely).

These days, however, my passion is knitting. I've worked on the gloves a little bit.


It's very interesting how the yarn seems to tell you what it wants to be. I've been at this point in the first glove already, but frogged it back. I've drawn out a pattern I liked for the back of the hand.... and scrapped it. This pattern is what the yarn wanted and so, this is the pattern I'm staying with.

I also found out why the first attempt was too short in the thumb gusset; I did it wrong. I did the increases every other round. The base pattern I'm using (Ann Budd's "Handy Book of Patterns") calls for the increases every third round; that makes all the difference!

Over the weekend, I found a FO in one of my knitting bags that I'm not sure I blogged about before.


I finished this little beret while we were in Gibsons. The yarn is from Mirasol yarns (I don't have the tag handy), a really nice yarn to work with. Really nice! I used two skeins, that I remember, although I didn't need much from the second skein. Once again, the pattern is from Ann Budd's book. I finally blocked it this weekend.

Oh, I did do one little embellishment, knitting-wise. The brim of this tam is worked in baby cable rib, one of my faves.

Now, I'm going to see if I can't get that knitting needle out of my skull. It's driving me nuts!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Things that make you go "Hmmm..."

I spent a bit of time (not THAT much!) on Ravelry this morning. In one of the groups I'm in, a poster referred readers to Fleegle's blog and something called "normality". Fleegle's post can be found here. Go ahead, read it, I'll wait.

Fascinating, yes? And so, after reading Fleegle's post, I sat down in my living room, picked up some needles and some yarn that just happened to be on the coffee table (I'm frogging an old crochet project that I know I'll never finish) and cast on 30 stitches using the Turkish cast on, as suggested. Here's what I came up with...


Keep in mind that this is recycled yarn that hasn't been reclaimed. Also keep in mind that this is the first time I've used the Turkish cast on. As well, keep in mind that I wasn't following a pattern, so the faggotting around the point is imperfect. My first impressions?

1. I'm not thrilled with the Turkish cast on. Perhaps I just need practice, but I have a row of twists down the center of this mini shawl. I think I'd prefer a different provisional cast on.

2. I like the shape. Stocking stitch is not even top to bottom and side to side, as garter stitch is, so this shape isn't an equilateral triangle; it's wider than it is long. That isn't a bad thing. In a full sized shawl, that would give you longer tails at the front, right? I suppose if you want a true, equilateral triangle, you could decrease on every row rather than every other row, as I did.

3. I can see the possibilities for a variety of shawl and stole shapes. By changing the positions and number of increases and decreases, you could come up with a myriad of interesting shapes.

As Fleegle writes in her post, this construction lends itself beautifully to a lot of design options. Your borders can be knit on at the same time because, knit this way, the borders are at the side edges, and don't need to be picked up and worked afterwards. Gotta love that!

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing what Fleegle comes up with, and I have every intention of playing around with her concept.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Update That Isn't

This is an update, and yet....

I've been working on my Fair Isle gloves this week, but working slowly. My right wrist has been bothering me quite a bit, so I know I have to take it easy. In the interim, I've read two Dean Koontz books (true literature, n'est-ce pas?), but I can't stay completely away from my knitting.

I took these three pictures earlier this week...




Since then, I've frogged back to the ribbing.

First, I decided the ribbing wasn't quite long enough for my liking. I get impatient with cuffs. They seem to take forever, and so, I give up on them when I think they're long enough. They never are.

Second, I've decided on a different fairisle pattern. I don't mind the one in the pictures, but.... eh!

Third, as you can see in the third picture, the thumb gusset isn't quite up to the point where the thumb gusset should be. It is, however, according to the pattern, the correct number of stitches. That means, the glove, had I kept going, would have been too small. I know, I know, I could have kept going, increasing to the right point. I thought about it, but I wasn't completely happy with the rest anyway and there were a couple of mistakes in the patterning, so..... I frogged it back.

Needless to say, it no longer looks like the pictures above and I haven't taken another picture because there's not much to show you past the ribbing. Because of that, this post is an update that really isn't an update.

On to other things... Last night, I, once again, picked up the Pi Are Square shawl. I'm thinking it needs, probably, another three balls of yarn to finish it to an acceptable length (I have eight balls remaining). I've just added in the second to last colour (light denim blue). After finishing that ball, I'm thinking I'll use the two balls of the dark denim blue to finish the shawl. I have no intention of getting into another repeat section; I haven't counted the stitches currently on the needle, but there are a lot of them! I have no desire to double that count, thank you very much. As long as I can wrap this shawl around my shoulders, and it comes at least to my waist, I'll be happy.

Generally, I wear shawls around the house to keep my shoulders and upper back (lower neck) area warm. Sweaters just aren't as cozy.

And, speaking of shawls, I might just be persuaded to cast on for another Pi shawl. Over in Yahoo groups, I've discovered the Ez as Pi group. Elizabeth Lovick is hosting a knitalong for an Orkney Pi Shawl; it is based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's basic Pi shawl (as mine was), and incorporating traditional Orkney lace patterns. I like that thought. The first installment of the pattern was posted yesterday.

I have some yarn in my stash that I think would be lovely for this shawl, but I don't think I have enough. Believe it or not, Liz is calling for approximately 3400 yards of 2-ply laceweight yarn for this shawl. I have 7 or 8 skeins of Drops Alpaca I was using for another project that has since fallen out of favour. The problem is, the Drops Alpaca is only 200 yards per ball. I would need seventeen balls!! That's a LOT of yarn. I might have to rethink this... or see what else I have in my stash.

I did say MIGHT be persuaded.... just not quite yet. In the interim, I'll be collecting the various parts of the pattern for possible future use.

So, what is it about shawls that makes them so addicting to make? I mean, I love knitting lace! I know there are lace knitters out there who don't wear the shawls they knit, but I'm not one of them. Right now, I have three shawls in my bedroom, not tucked away in drawers but draped over my bedside stand, and one around my shoulders. The appeal can't be because they knit up quickly; some do, some don't. Most lace projects take a lot of concentration. Then, once you've done with the knitting, you have to block it; that can be an exercise in frustration.

Perhaps the addiction is a result of that final step: releasing the shawl from it's pins and seeing that final, glorious product... Lace. And knowing that something so beautiful came from your own fingers. Perhaps.